Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Best Friends Affect Teen Drinking

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Best Friends Affect Teen Drinking

Article excerpt

All you remember about your first swig of alcohol may be how bad it tasted. What you didn't know is that the person who gave you that first drink and when you had it affects your predisposition to imbibe later in life.

A national study by a University of Iowa (UI)-led team has found that adolescents who get their first drink from a friend are more likely to drink sooner in life, which past studies show makes them more prone to abusing alcohol when they get older. The finding is designed to help specialists predict when adolescents are likely to first consume alcohol, with the aim of heading off problem drinking at the pass.

"Kids don't get their first drinks from their family," says Samuel Kuperman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at UI and coauthor of the study. "They get their first drinks from their friends."

The basis for the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is compelling: One-third of U.S. eighth graders report they've tried alcohol, according to a 2011 study of 20,000 teenagers. By 10th grade, more than half say they've had a first drink, and that percentage shoots to 70% by their senior year.

"There's something driving kids to drink," explains Kuperman, corresponding author on the paper. …

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